Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Ok, I really didn't think I would write more (find my first piece here) about this, but here we are. Thank my man Robert Franco for not letting me leave these thoughts to dissipate into the chat-feature of Snapchat.

The focus on feet and shoes is included I think for a reason other than to provoke a superficial auteurism by way of hilarious, erotic red herring, though it remains a provocative reason: they form a metonymy of 'down-to-earth,' the cultural sign for the celebrity acting as-if-not, hence the focus on multiple types of actors. Stuntmen, showboaters, pacifists, and obviously, actors. I take this, as will be seen, nonsensical category of the 'down-to-earth' as a helpful metaphor for the doubly-aimed critique of historical realism and historical sensationalism (which, crucially, a proper critique of either must deal with the other). It, on the one hand, requires as components of its message the signifiers of 'the real' or the humble and ordinary and need, which, really, are functives purely in opposition to the spectacle, Myth writ large, leisure, and material signifiers for wealth. And on the other hand, it completely retains, necessarily I might add, the symbolic of the deity and the Mythic such that the (performative) work [1] of the 'realist' signifiers actually function.

Here we see the failure and foolishness of calling a celebrity 'down-to-earth,' which, if anything, sensationalizes and reifies the idolism of the celebrity further, doing the opposite of its intention but also making way for the description, when used in the future, to be even more 'true.' But this entanglement of the sensational and the realist that shows up in that phrase is the same dyadic path that this film walks down. Sharon is negated as the mythical figure her name had come to solidify when she lives (or more accurately, when she is left <<not-dead>>). However, she is not, under any pretense, supposedly the 'real' Sharon when we glimpse her dirty feet in the movie theatre or listen to her snore. The paradox, that is, the non-existence, of the 'real' Sharon Tate here or anywhere in media, discourse, and the Symbolic is perfectly illustrated in the circle of never-arriving at identity when the Sharon of the film watches THE WRECKING CREW. She literally imitates and emulates the Sharon of the Silver Screen (as does Robbie), whose, in turn, entire performance was an emulation of the Sharon of the film's fight practice with Bruce Lee. Additionally, there is the play with recognition that the Sharon of the Silver Screen will be viewed by the audience of ONCE UPON... as the 'real' Sharon; but of course this is not the case, she is, rather, <<not-Margot-Robbie>>.

We come to the macro-point on the film's whole exercise. The dyadic path of revisionism I speak of is to sensationalize the True Story such as to recognize it as the deep oxymoron it is (and hence we end on a fizzle, the somber realization that the sensation and the myth was not carried out, and purposelessness remains) while at the same time taking the Mythic, the idol, the spectacle and throwing it carelessly into a blue coupe.


[1] To address the sign as performative, there are two concepts I wish to cite. One aspect of Judith Butler's performativity of gender and sexuality involves the notion that the ontology of identity, even ontology itself, being is on some level performative. Secondly, in Derrida, even in classical semiotics (hither from Saussure) where the sign is arbitrary, the relationship between signifier and signified has the gestural link of the becoming-unmotivated.

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